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Tension over series of kidnappings

Begusarai town is simmering with a law and order situation arising out of successive kidnappings and the recovery of a kid’s body during this poll season.

Located around 125km east of Patna, the residents of the town are agitated over the kidnappings of three school-going children over the past month. The body of one of the children was recovered on March 15.

The residents are giving a vent to their anger against the administration through candle marches, followed by a bandh call on Friday. The police are being blamed for failure to recover the missing children and nabbing the criminals involved.

“By and far, Begusarai had remained a peaceful place for around a decade but recently there has been a spurt in crime against children. Three school-going children have been kidnapped in the past one month and one of them died. Piyush, the deceased, had been hacked to death as the police found his chopped head, legs and hands in a field. This happened even after his father paid Rs 8.5 lakh as ransom to the abductors,” said Ramesh Prasad Singh, a social activist based in Begusarai.

The residents alleged that the police used force on people during Friday’s protest as part of the bandh call. “The police lathicharged people sitting on dharna on the NH-31 and put 12 of them in jail by imposing non-bailable charges, including sections 144, 188, 353, 332, 333 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They were also brutally beaten inside the jail on Friday night,” said a resident of Begusarai.

The residents are naturally livid over the alleged negligent attitude of the administration and the cops.

“The administration has created an emergency-like situation in Begusarai in the name of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct. They were sleeping when the children were getting abducted one after the other. Now when people are protesting, they are being beaten up. If the Begusarai police are incapable of finding the culprits, the matter should be handed over to the CBI,” said Pravin Kumar Gunjan, an alumnus of the National School of Drama, New Delhi, and a theatre director based in Begusarai at present.

The police, however, denied using force during the bandh. “We have identified the killers of Piyush and raids are being continuously conducted at all possible hideouts to nab them. We have also nabbed some suspects in the case of Nilotpal’s kidnapping based on circumstantial evidences but they have not given us any leads as of now. We are in the process of getting permission for conducting lie-detector tests to solve the case,” said Harpreet Kaur, the Begusarai superintendent of police.

When The Telegraph asked him about recovering the remaining two children, Kaur said: “We cannot make any definite comments on the recovery of the children but all possible investigations, including scientific investigations, are being conducted. We have put up posters of the missing children all across Begusarai and a reward of Rs 20,000 has also been fixed for those helping in recovery of the kids.”